Do You Suffer from Prepper Burnout?

Do you suffer from Prepper Burnout?

Prepping is always undertaken with the thought that you are “preparing” for something to happen. You prepare so you are ready. The reasons we prepare are all different, but if you are watching the markets or the global news while you stock up on food, water, security items and possibly precious metals, you are waiting for something to happen. Some might disagree with me and say they aren’t waiting, but want to be ready just in case. We could get caught up in the semantics of the definition of “waiting”, but you are waiting to use your preps or to put your plan into action or else you aren’t prepping.

For me, the waiting piece fits into most of what I do. I have things that I believe are possible in my lifetime that could cause me to use my prepping supplies. I believe there are potential situations where the skills and training I have acquired could be called into action to save my life or the lives of others. These are my motivations and they change from day-to-day with the events going on outside my window. I am waiting, watching for scenarios to unfold where I need to act.

But some people can’t stand waiting. Their own personal motivation, the reasons why they started prepping in the first place don’t seem to arrive when they are expected. If you are looking toward specific dates or events happening on a timeline this can be a stressful period for you. Others get very consumed with the subject of prepping and allow it to consume their thoughts and actions almost completely. Their intensity could be a direct correlation of the urgency they feel that their motivating event is imminent. In both of these situations, the stress of prepping can become too much. When the intensity can’t be regulated or the event date they were worried about has passed into history without anything deadly happening, this can lead to feelings of exhaustion, frustration and even disillusionment. At these low times, people can easily suffer from prepper burnout.

How can you recognize prepper burnout?

I wrote an article recently where I discussed dealing with stress after a disaster. Prepper Burnout can certainly be associated with stress, but its origins usually come from the lack of a disaster. The stress that causes prepper burnout is focused inward by our own brain and not as the result of some external crisis. We allow ourselves to get burned out by not regulating the amount of energy, thought and focus we place on this subject of prepping. The good news is that unlike a horrible tragedy, we can take steps to control what we do and how we act.

I have talked to many preppers in the comments of the articles on the Prepper Journal and from time to time you can pick up little hints that someone is not as enthusiastic as they used to be. They seem defeated, begin to question assumptions and critique others ideas more quickly. Sometimes this is just their prickly nature. Other times it is a sign that they really need to detach for a while.

Prepper burnout to me has some symptoms you might recognize:

  • Fatigue – This is probably the most common symptom. You simply get tired of talking about prepping, worrying about prepping and thinking about prepping.
  • Forgetfulness – Impaired thought/Attention – This doesn’t necessarily mean that you start forgetting things and need to have a medical examination, but you let your guard down. Where you used to walk into a restaurant and scan faces to look for anything odd, now you plop down in the nearest seat and bury your face into your smart phone.
  • Anxiety – Worrying about the future can lead to sleepless nights, inability to enjoy the moments you are in because you are thinking of some tragedy.
  • Depression – Some preppers get really depressed when “the event” doesn’t happen. If the stock market didn’t crash when it was supposed to, if the blood moon or Shemitah didn’t bring earthquakes and cats and dogs living together, it is a letdown.
  • Illness – Too much stress and worry can affect your heath causing you to have a lower immune system which can lead to more illness.
If you find yourself facing prepper burnout, you should stop and rethink what you are doing.
If you find yourself facing prepper burnout, you should stop and rethink what you are doing.

How can you cope with prepper burnout?

I started prepping back in 2007 before the market fun of 2008. I watched as my 401K disappeared like many others and listened to all the pundits talking about doom and gloom almost on a daily basis since that time. Since I started prepping, there have been so many events that have happened that were going to be the “trigger event” that would send our country spiraling out of control and on many occasions I would expect to wake up to news headlines of mass chaos. The way I envisioned it didn’t happen but at times I have felt my energy level flagging. When that happens, I try to do the following.

Rebound: Train for a marathon, not a sprint – Too many preppers are worried about the next big calendar event and September was touted by many with signs and prophecies that spelled doom and destruction. If you were waiting on this you might be disappointed somewhat that nothing happened. You aren’t foolish, but maybe you need to re-calibrate your prepping forecast somewhat. Once you are at a level that you have the basics of prepping under control, the next events shouldn’t be something you worry about. I plan for living to a very old age, but if something happens before then I will be ready. I plan for weddings and grandchildren and many years of life without chaos even though I think I will be prepared if my timeline gets thrown out of whack by forces out of my control. Prepping is a long-term game that you need stamina to run. Don’t give up after the first turn.

Recharge: Take breaks and enjoy life now – Prepping does not need to come at the expense of your quality of life. You should be able to enjoy the world around you as much as possible and continue to prepare at the same time. Take a break from prepping and go on vacation with your family. Go camping or backpacking and get out into those woods you are planning to bug out into. Experience some of the sights in our country you have been meaning to see. Travel and do things outside with friends and family. There will be time for the bunker mentality later.

Reevaluate: your life, your goals and your plan – When I am feeling like something isn’t working I consider that a good time to rethink what I am doing. It may be that what I have been doing to prepare is perfectly fine, but I might conduct research into other areas I have been neglecting. My prepping plan can always use tweaking and it isn’t a hard and fast plan anyway. I have many plans and they are constantly being revised as family grows, lifestyles change, or our circumstances are altered. Life happens so you will routinely need to take a step back and look at things from a new perspective. This can show you new approaches you might have overlooked. It may put you in touch with new people with different viewpoints, experience and perspective.

Remember: the most important things in life – Finally, I try to remember that all of my efforts, all of my planning and stressing is a fool’s errand if the people I am trying to protect are left out of my life. Instead of spending all of your time and energy on surviving doomsday, spend just as much if not more on making memories during the good times. Take your wife on a date, go for long walks and talk to her, get away for a weekend and do something besides watch Doomsday Prepper reruns. Spend time with family, play with your kids and talk to them. Start a new hobby with your children or tradition. Teach them something you know and it doesn’t have to be how to skin a buck or start a fire with nothing but sticks. I prepare for my family but I have to remember that I don’t want to get to the end of my life and not have spent as much meaningful time with them as I could have. I am happy to be wrong about my preps for disaster, but I don’t want my kids to only know that side of their Dad. Life is so much more than basic survival and it is important to remember that.

Hopefully that helped someone with perspective. Life has taught me that how you think about things can greatly change your outlook and your success with the right way of thinking about a subject. If you are suffering prepper burnout, maybe you just need to look at life in a different light. Don’t give up, but adjust and you might be happier for it.

What do you do when you feel like giving up?

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21 comments
  1. A very good thought provoking post but I feel personally that burn out only occurs if you see preparedness and Survivalism as a hobby or job or obligation, or something you just think you have to do because you have become enlightened as to global current affairs (or even a role play fantasy). Then when the 9.5 quake does not make Nevada a coastal area, or two million zombies pour into Georgia, or Donald Trump sets off a nuke in Kansas, or ISIS does not invades Poughkeepsie, or the winter storms miss you, or the local KKK turns out to be all black democrats playing a trick. When the thing your fear worst does not materialise some people lose hope or get despondent. They see all the gear and supplies and question was it worth it/
    YES it is worth it, because chances are one day YOU WILL NEED IT.
    Where people like myself who have been prepping and following survivalism since the late 1970s ( I started in 79) do NOT get burn out or go into a blue funk is when you make preparedness and survivalism a fully paid up part of your LIFESTYLE, when it becomes an integral part of who you are and how you live, dress, train, think, function then it cannot cause burnout because its part of your life and not a pastime, hobby or interest.

    1. Well said! I doubt that preppers are “born” that way, it has to become ingrained into your lifestyle, your way of thinking. That doesn’t happen overnight, but a time eventually comes when you realize that it is a natural part of your life. In that sense, prepping is an entirely unforced discipline.

      1. I get baffled by preppers in a Blue Funk, I look at my one and only son and my wonderful wife of 40 years, then switch on the TV news to read about terrorism extremism, socialism, economic uncertainty, el nino, tsunamis, civil unrest, street gangs, the EU latest repression, mass immigration, rising violence, US vying with Russia again, , Islamic extremism in Europe etc, then I look at the preps, supplies, tools, weapons, medical supplies, back up gear, etc and think THANK BLOODY CHRIST FOR MEL TAPPAN/ RAGNAR BENSON / Colonel JEFF COOPER / JERR AHERN, and their modern equivalents like Clyde on DDP ,Pat Henry on here etc we are bloody lucky to have them help inform, educate and link us together.

        1. Ah, you’ve invoked some extremely great names of good people who know/knew what they were/are talking about ! Thanks for the shot in the arm.

          1. My generation Egbert, twas Mr Tappan and his occasional piece in the Gubs n Ammo mag way back when that got me interested, then I wrote to him and he very kindly replied.

          1. Mel was the original pioneer, guys like you picked up the baton where he left off when he passed away. As for colonel Cooper he is the most underrated and under appreciated contributor to Survivalism of them all. You can read some of the complete bollocks written by ” gun experts” these days then go back and read the Colonels view and get absolute clarity and common sense from him. mind you I never agreed with him over 45ACP and never will :), I’m a 9mm Para man and even your FBI are going back to 9mm now :).
            Oh and lets nt forget your greatest shootist whilst we are on about it, tips hat to Gunnery Sergeant Major Carlos Hathcock.

  2. I don’t suffer from “Prepper Burnout” or from Northern Raider’s excellent diagnostic “BlueFunk”. I DO get frustrated at times with the Ninnies who “think” that THEY get to partake of whatever THEY need due to my generosity and innate kindness.
    The “Little Red Hen Syndrome” IS alive and well in the vast majority of the population. No thank you, MY family and extended family comes first and foremost, then other people I can assist based on what the Holy Spirit instructs me to do. Most often I’ve found that, that Spirit tells me to walk away or to continue assisting those I am already assisting. So, that let’s out the able-bodied panhandlers with card board signs in our area, MOST of whom live in the State’s Sex Offender Registry dormitory, according to published information from local law enforcement.
    Burnout? Nope, not a bit. Frustration at the day-to-day political chicanery of the suppurating polticalwhores in D.C. and my state’s capital? Absolutely. Since it IS illegal to “do the World a favor” in regards to those aforementioned parasites, and frankly they aren’t worth the buckshot it would take to blow their brains out(rhetorically speaking OF COURSE), I try to seek after positive reinforcement from uplifting folks like the ones I find here. Not blowing smoke up anyone’s skirts, just calling it like I see it.

  3. Least your state and federal MASTERS are not rampant Marxists masquerading as Socialists masquerading as democrats like they are here. Not only is the UK infested with them but so is the EU. I’m sick and tired of pointing out that the decline in Britain’s status on the global stage mirrors exactly the rise of socialism and the welfare state in the UK

    1. Hang in there my brother. Don’t let the illigetimi grind you down. Oh, in regards to your statement that our state and Federal masters are not rampant Marxists, YES, many of them are, and are now coming out, they call themselves “Socialists” or “Progressives”. At least in this state we are now in, our gun rights are still intact, so we can fight back if needed.(unlike in the UK) NR, not sure In wouldn’t willingly become a criminal if I couldn’t or was prohibited from having the means to lawfully defend myself and family AND PROPERTY from predation. As a Yank, if I was stuck in the UK, my baseball bat, mitt and cleats would be my constant companions.

          1. Yup along with my Compound bows, recurve bows, take down bow, pistol crossbows, telescopic batons, AK47 bayonet, 500 gram can of RAID, among other things 🙂

  4. Burnout, no, not at all. I am appreciating the additional time I have to prep. I would also appreciate additional money because a disabled vet it costs a whole lot more to live.

  5. I was always a ‘prepper’ in some way shape or form, as a well stocked pantry was something ingrained in me by my Depression-era grandparents. But I spent many years with a well stocked pantry and little else, and went on about my life with my eyes wide shut… we were also campers, and better ‘prepared’ than most…I became ‘aware’ probably 5-6 yrs ago, and went at things ‘gung-ho’…started accumulating ‘stuff’, while I had some money…but all the ‘doom and gloom’ stuff got to be a bit overwhelming, and I did experience a bit of ‘burnout’…I’ve since then whittled down what websites I visit, avoiding the ‘doom and gloom’ type sites…and while my financial situation has taken a turn for the worse, what supplies I had got us through rough times in a fairly comfortable manner…now my quandary is how to replenish the used supplies to a level I’m more comfortable with…

    For me, the ‘burnout’ came not from ‘the event’ not occurring, but because I was so overloaded with information and opinions in the beginning…I think that folks who have always walked the walk probably wouldn’t experience ‘burnout’, but those newer to the lifestyle can be overwhelmed to the point of ‘burnout’ until they are able to discern which resources are reliable and which are not…and it’s not always an easy path…

  6. I think that after many years I have become in part at least aware of what causes the blue funk in some of us, and that is our obsession in getting stressed and frustrated over the many and varied threats and crises’ we face. All to often on UK forums its What if this happens, what if that happens, What if the government does this, what if the tsunami causes a 9.9 quake, what if the natural disaster prompts the government to suspend democracy etc etc. And people go over this time after time after time fretting and worrying themselves about all sorts of permutations of likely scenarios. THAT ACHIEVES ABSOLUTE NOTHING, ZIP, NADA.
    All we can do calmly and rationally is be aware of natural and man made issues going on around us and take what sensible steps as we can to mitigate the effects. We can identify causal factors and make our plans as flexible as possible, but going on and on and on about threats and risks we cannot directly or indirectly affect is pointless.
    PREP, BE SITATIONALLY AWARE, BE AWARE OF YOUR ENVIRONMENT and SURROUNDINGS, and get on with your life.

  7. I understand this concept of burn out. Unlike a lot of folks here, I haven’t been setting aside for a rainy day for 10-50 years. With around 2 years into this endeavour, I’ve been a bit streaky with the set asides.

    When I get bummed out, I usually go out in the woods and find a new stick to sharpen. Not the best use of time, but it beats doing nothing.

    On the bright side, we’re moving to a more secure location soon. That has flipped the tables a bit. Now we’re divesting junk vs acquiring resources. The new digs will be more conducive to a self-sufficient lifestyle while not necessarily going off-grid. While cleaning, organizing, donating, and tossing stuff that has built up over 15 years is really crappy work, I’ve spent a good amount of time formulating plans around setting the new site up from scratch to support the life we want to live.

  8. Very good observations as usual Pat. I think that something you touched on has a very significant impact on people is the hype over certain dates and the vast echo chamber of the internet. I personally didn’t put much stock in the late September play date with destruction predictions, but it seemed like a good number of people did. Maybe I’m just desensitized to the doomsday predictions at this point since the last 4 or 5 appointments fell through (remember y2k, 9/9/09, 12/21/12, and a couple others I don’t remember off the top of my head) and I just give it the old “I doubt it but I will keep tabs on the news that day”. But the build up probably did have a profound effect on on people new to prepping just like y2k did. I am reminded of the observation of the joker in the most recent batman movies that even if the plan is horrifying people are ok with it as long as things go according to the plan. The worst thing a prepper can do is is ink ragnarok in on their calendar as a deadline for self sufficiency.

    1. Thank you very much Adam!

      Had to look ragnarok up, but your analogy is perfect. I think that is why I prefered to get ready at the beginning and then coast for the lack of a more accurate term. I was paying attention to the news like you, but didn’t get too worked up because I already had a level of preps that I felt comfortable with. Much less stress that way.

      Pat

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